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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-326263 Asia / Security Forum
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=07/29/05

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=ASIA / SECURITY FORUM (L)

NUMBER=2-326263

BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB

DATELINE=VIENTIANE

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

HEADLINE: Asia-Pacific Forum Seeks to Intervene Diplomatically in Regional Conflicts

INTRO: The Asia-Pacific region's main security forum says it will strengthen its contribution to global security and begin working diplomatically to prevent conflicts in the region. The ASEAN Regional Forum made the announcement on the final day of a week-long series of ministers' meetings in Laos. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Vientiane.

TEXT: The ASEAN Regional Forum ended its meeting (Friday) saying it would strengthen efforts to combat terrorism and transnational crime. And it pledged to move toward a new role of diplomatic intervention to head off regional conflicts.

But the chairman, Lao Foreign Minister Somsavat Lengsavad, said through a translator that the transition would be measured.

/// SOMSAVAT ACT, VOICE OF ENGLISH TRANSLATOR ///

"We need to move gradually at the comfort level (of) all the participants."

/// END ACT ///

Traditionally, the Forum -- which groups the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, with 15 other nations of the Asia and the Pacific regions -- has limited its roles to dialogue and confidence building.

But the head of the United States delegation, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, said countries should examine ways to take direct action to address regional problems.

/// ZOELLICK ACT ///

"There's a rich universe of areas in which we can expand the cooperation to trying to prevent problems, but also to act on problems."

/// END ACT ///

He gave as examples the joint humanitarian effort following December's devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. Other examples include joint efforts to contain epidemics like last year's avian flu outbreak, reduce sea piracy and combat international terrorism.

Earlier, six nations that together produce more than one-half of the world's pollution announced a partnership to develop and disseminate clean energy technologies, aimed at reducing global warming without hurting economic growth in developing nations.

/// REST OPT ///

The gathering avoided disruption early in the week when Burma announced it would voluntarily relinquish its turn as chairman of ASEAN next year. The United States and European Union said they would boycott ASEAN if Burma became chairman, because of Rangoon's poor human rights record.

Deputy Secretary Zoellick welcomed the fact that ASEAN had resolved the issue.

/// ZOELLICK ACT 2 ///

"I'm pleased that we'll be able to participate fully with the ASEAN processes. It doesn't change our basic position in terms of Burma."

/// END ACT ///

He said the situation in Burma had deteriorated instead of getting better, and urged Rangoon to make progress toward democracy. (SIGNED)

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